Let Your Love Shine!

“Romans 12:9-21 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

http://olivetree.com/b1/Rom.12.9-21.ESV

This is one of my very favorite passages in the bible. (I think, even if you’re not a Christian, this is good advice.) We live in a mean world where people are killed, maimed, raped, degraded, debased, and ignored every single day. Perhaps you feel as though you’re not ever seen or thought of by others, but, you are! Every single day people see you and get an impression of who you are and what you believe through your actions, attitude, and even facial expression. Now, here’s my question for you. If today was your last day on earth and it was the last time your family, friends and even strangers were to see you, what would you want them to see and remember forever? Every person’s answer will be different, but I will tell you what I want people to see in me. I want people to see a positive influence, a sweet smile, a loving touch, a person generous with love, comfort, helpfulness and maybe even a little colorful zaniness that makes them laugh for a moment. I want to be a person who, even if for just one minute, helps others forget all the meanness in the world. I want them to see someone who leaves them with hope, love, peace and a sense of “they matter.” I want them to see God’s love through my actions.

God loves EVERYONE, not just Christians, people like us, people in our political party or of our sexual orientation or ethnicity. GOD LOVES EVERYONE. His son, Jesus, revealed that love in everything he said and did every day of his ministry. Jesus revealed his love for us through the awful torture he willingly endured on that Friday thousands of years ago, and through rising from the dead on the third day. That’s what real love looks like! If God is love and we claim to love God, our mission every day becomes bigger than how we want people to see us or remember us. Our mission is to show God in everything we do. If we follow the instructions from Romans 12:9-21, we will be showing people God. God who is love, love and more love. So, the next time you see or meet someone, whether they be people like you or people completely different from you, show some love, even if only through your smiling eyes. I know this is a rather preachy post, but I say all these things out of love. Love is something special only if you give it away. I promise you, you’ll end having more love than you could ever imagine. You can start giving away love by following the instructions of Romans 12: 9-21.

 I’ll hush now before your eyes glaze over. I love all of you very much and pray that you have a blessed Easter weekend!

Elaine 

 This is a photo I took this morning just before dawn. Even though it was cold, snowy and mostly dark, look at what was shining through!  
   

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Love One Another…

You know what I think is really neat? When you’re reading a book and then you go to church and get a re-emphasis of the message from the book? I’m reading “The Shack” again after several years since first reading it. (Excellent, excellent book by William Paul Young.) I was reading it this morning and had a hard time tearing myself away from it to get ready for church. I go to church at Sunnyside Christian and nearly everything Eric Batteiger said this morning emphasized what I had been reading about that morning!! So cool!
God loves us! He wants us to be in a relationship with him. He IS love and he wants us to love others and be in relationship with others too. God is the compass. If we’re lost and don’t know what to do or where to go next in life, look to God and he will show you the way…with love! There is no place so deep or so dark that God can’t find you and point you to the way out.
GOD IS LOVE!! If he’s all about love, then what in the world is going on where all we hear about on the news is hatred, meanness, attacking one another for being different from us, for just being sometimes? We need to get back to love, respect, and decency people! We’re all different, but that’s what makes life so amazing! Wouldn’t it be boring if we were all just alike, all believed the exact same things, said the same things, did the same things? 
I don’t want to live in a world like that, do you? Please, give each other the benefit of the doubt and respond first with respect and love. You’ll be amazed at what happens next!

  

Hugs and Prayers

I believe if there was more hugging, praying and listening to one another, there would be less hatred, bigotry, judgment, and violence. It is very difficult to hug and pray for someone and continue to hate them or fear them. You see them as they truly are, a person, just like you, with faults, foibles, gifts and goodness. (Yes, I believe there is some goodness in every person on earth. Every person.) If you actually listen to people, most of the time you will find they want the same things you want: love, safety, security, acceptance, and…love again! We’re all different people, but all people nonetheless. So, the next time you’re tempted to tell someone off, hate someone because of their ethnicity or different viewpoint or lifestyle, or worse, take a deep breath, remember they are human just like you, give them a hug either in actuality or in your heart, and say a prayer for them. Jesus said to pray for your enemies and to love one another. I think a lot of good things could come from following those instructions and examples that He gave of that. (Have you ever noticed that what Jesus taught and Jesus did were completely the same?)

Do you think hugs are too simplistic or that people won’t accept them well? Here are a few instances that reveal the error of that idea.

*One day at a grocery store, a complete stranger, an older woman, came up to me, started talking to me, and by the end of the conversation we were hugging and loving one another like long lost relatives. She was old, lonely, and just needed some love and attention. Okay, I’ll come clean, this wasn’t a one time event. It happens to me all the time! I think I must have a sign on my back that says, “Need a hug? Come to me!” Hahaha!

*At a job I had at the Texas Tech medical school, one day a young man who was HUGE, but greatly mentally challenged, broke free from his caregivers and charged down the hall at me yelling, “Want to bite! Want to bite!” He ran into my office, grabbed me by the arm and raised it towards his face as though he was going to bite my arm. (I was terrified! He could have bitten my arm in two. He was that big.) I patted him on his arm and gave him a gentle hug and said, “You don’t really want to bite me, do you? My name is Elaine. Did you know that God loves you?” He put my arm down, returned my hug in a nearly rib-cracking manner and apologized right before his caregivers caught up to me. He was calm for the remainder of his visit and kept repeating, “God loves me! God loves me!”

*As a final example among hundreds, one day I came across a young man who was obviously a criminal, a drug dealer, a gang leader. It was a highly charged, scary situation. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time quite by coincidence. There were other young men with him and all looked like they’d just as soon injure me as look at me. To this day I don’t know why I did this, but I believe the Holy Spirit took me over because I walked up to this scary looking big gang member and gave him a hug and told him God love him. He grasped me to him, hid his face in my shoulder and started crying! I’m not talking a little bit of tears. I’m talking body wracking sobs. He was trying to hide this from his fellow gang members, but whispered to me, “Do you really think God loves me after all I’ve done?” I assured him that God did love him, even now. Then I said something my Grandmother Gill used to say, “It’s time to come back to God’s country.” He shook his head in agreement, asked me to give him a moment to compose himself and thanked me as he let me go.

These are but a few examples of all the people I’ve met in life who just needed a hug and a reminder that they were loved by God, if no one else, and that they mattered. Now, I’m not suggesting you go up to a stranger on the street and give them a hug without asking. I am suggesting that when opportunities arise to give a hug or even a pat on the shoulder…take it! Pray for these people! Remember them and keep praying for them! We’re all humans who need love, even if we’re all different from each other. Thank God we’re all different from each other and have such variety! How boring would an entire world of Elaines be? Ugh! Actually, the world would fall apart if everyone were like me because although I’m a hugger, prayer, and lover of people, we also need accountants, doctors, lawyers, garbage collectors, mechanics, engineers, peacekeepers, artists, judges, factory workers and even politicians to keep the world running properly and with beauty. Ever single one of those people, though, needs love, or at the various least, respect. So, love, pray, hug.

Peace and love, always,

Elaine

1 Corinthians 13:1-8
The Greatest Gift
​ Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.

What Are Your Hands Doing?

I was reading Guideposts this morning and came across a quote so profound, I felt I had to share it and some other thoughts I have on the matter.  Here is the quote:
“Our hands are really servants of our thoughts, so if you want to understand what you’re thinking, watch what your hands are doing.”   Jewel, singer

  What are our hands treasuring?  What are they doing each day?  I like the idea that our hands reveal our thoughts, and to a greater degree, our hearts.  I wish I could say that all of my days are spent using my hands to help others, to do good works, and to enourage, love, and build others up.  I would be lying if I said that is what I do all the time.  For, my hands are often spent serving and entertaining myself, especially online on my iPad.  I also use my hands for housework, some gardening, knitting/crocheting, petting my animals, and touching people, hopefully in a loving way. I waste a lot of time, though, when my hands could be serving and loving more.

I did a search on my Bible app (via my ever present iPad) for the word “hands” in the New Testament. Do you know what came up over and over again?  Jesus or his disciples laying hands on people to heal them.  Jesus laying his hands on the  little children to bless them. Jesus lifting his hands in prayer to his father in heaven.  In other words, Jesus used his hands for the same things we can use our hands for–laying hands on people, helping them and praying. I’m not suggesting that all of us have the spiritual gift to heal people when we lay hands on them. I am saying that as a people we should be touching others in love and encouragement, more. We don’t do that anymore. Our hands are too full of things to reach out and touch someone. Our hands are even clenched into fists of anger, frustration, and protests so much that reaching out in a friendly manner and touching someone has almost become a taboo activity. Why is that? Have we become a society so filled with fear that we can’t be human?

I like to touch people, especially babies and old people. Now, before you start thinking I’m a pervert, I’m not. These two demographics of people seem reach out their hands to be touched, patted, and/or in a request for help. The interesting thing is, these people seem to inherently know when they see me, a complete stranger, that I’m a person whom they can trust and will touch them with love. I’ve had complete strangers walk up to me in public places, take my hand, and ask for help or just start talking to me. Babies, in public, when I pass by, whether I’ve seen them or not, laugh spontaneously when they see me (yeah, I’m funny looking and make lots of people laugh!) and then reach out their little hands to touch me. I’ve even had babies out in public spontaneously jump into my arms! I can’t explain this phenomenon, but both groups are right. They can trust me. I won’t hurt them. I will do what I can to help them. I actually love it when people reach out to me. It’s always a blessing to me and fills me with peace and joy the entire rest of the day!

So why don’t I reach out and touch more people? Why don’t I use my hands more often to help and serve others and God? Why do I waste so much time? It is easy for me to say, “Well, I have fibromyalgia and have a lot of pain and weakness. I can’t do things like I used to do because I don’t have the physical capacity to do so.”

A couple of years ago, God told me my mission, if I chose to accept it, was to simply “Knit, Pray, Love.”  That’s it. Three words. I started knitting/crocheting prayer shawls. As I would work on the shawl, I would pray for whomever was to receive the shawl and pray that through that shawl, they could feel my love and, more importantly, God’s loving arms around them. Sometimes I knew who I was making the shawl for, but, more often than not, I had no idea who would receive the shawl. Every time I finished one, I learned who it was for and would pass it on to them. I felt a great deal of peace, love, and usefulness in this work, but somehow let it lapse. Oh, I keep buying yarn and getting patterns, but I’m not doing what I was doing, what God asked me to do. I need to do that again. I need to use my hands for good instead of entertaining myself. I need to reach out and touch people in real life too. We all do. We’ve become a society afraid of touching and it is isolating us and creating huge rifts amongst family, friends, ethnic groups, religious groups, and the world in general. I think if there was more handshaking, pats on the back and hugging going on amongst all people, a lot of these tensions would melt away. I think if we used our hands to help and bless one another, no one would be able to take weapons up against one another in haste or hatred. Lives would be spared. All our lives would be blessed. 

What are your hands doing? 

  

Discombobulated

Discombobulated,
anxious,
all because of a
twelve-pound dog
who found me at a
truck stop ten years ago
and made me fall in love.

While he’s in surgery,
it’s like I’m at the hospital
waiting room in 1986,
while my mom is having
open heart surgery.

image113

Love isn’t reasonable
or logical.
It just is.

When we give our
heart and love to
someone,
no matter who
or what species,
that’s that.

We worry,
we fret, we pray,
when they aren’t well.

When they are well,
we enjoy their presence,
the little ordinary moments,
the laughter,
the comforting habits.

My little ball of fur
is part of my ordinary moments,
the laughter of my and my husband’s days,
and definitely part of comforting habits.

Obviously there is a difference in
waiting to hear if your mother is
going to live through surgery
and waiting to hear that your dog
is doing ok after surgery.

The heart doesn’t know this.
It just squeezes tight and
prays all will be well.

© Elaine Wood-Lane
6/5/15

Foot Washing and Love

Ok, this may sound a little weird, but hang with me for just a little bit. I’ve been away from my home for 16 days, in other countries, having the time of my life. I left behind one of the very best friends I’ve ever had in my life and he only weighs 12 pounds on a heavy day. This little best friend is my pet Chihuahua mix breed dog, Buddy. Buddy is ten years old and I’ve had him for all of but five months of those ten years. I found him freezing cold and starving at a truck stop the day after Christmas, 2005. I ended up not being able to resist picking him up and thought I was taking him to the Humane Society in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but instead took him into my heart. I’ve missed the little guy since we were over in western Europe, but knew he was missing me probably even more. He tends to do that when I’m gone. We’re pretty attached to each other I guess. So, that’s the first part of this story.

The second part of this story is that I have a lot of foot, leg, hip, and back pain when I’m on my feet for very long. (That is part of my fibromyalgia/arthritis issues.) Also, I have very, very dry feet so it’s not uncommon for my feet, especially my heels, to crack and bleed when I’m on them for any length of time. I’ve tried all the cures known to doctors and Pinterest, but without a lot of success. While we were on our trip, we walked and walked and walked and…you get the picture. Considering how much we walked, I did really well until the last two or three days. Somewhere in the Louvre my feet, etc. decided they were done and I started hurting. Last night by the time we got to the hotel in Boston after a full 20 hours of walking in airports and flying across the Atlantic, I took off my shoes and my feet had been bleeding without me even realizing it.

Now comes the third part of the story. Today we finally arrived home and my Buddy went nuts with excitement! He was SO happy to see me that he nearly licked my chin and cheeks right off. (He knows he isn’t allowed to lick me on the mouth, but my chin is fair game! Ha!) Anyway, I was sitting in my chair, going through the mountain of mail I received while we were gone and suddenly I notice that Buddy is licking my foot. I look down and once again my feet had cracked and bled. I tried to stop Buddy from licking my feet, but he looked up at me with such a look of love and devotion, I let him continue. He completely, entirely cleaned up my ugly, swollen, cracked feet. I know this sounds gross, but it was really very reviving. Then he climbed into his favorite position by my side in our chair and fell asleep.

So, where am I going with this? As Buddy fell asleep by my side, I suddenly thought of the following story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet before the last supper they would ever have together:

John 13:3-8
Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”
Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”

I’ve read this story hundreds of times, heard sermons and bible studies devoted to it, and often wondered how Jesus could wash someone else’s dirty, gross feet when they walked everywhere they went. I especially wondered this in light of the fact that Jesus is God’s son and by all rights should have asked his disciples to wash his feet. He was about to give up his life for them and the world and yet he washed their feet? That always completely blew my mind and baffled me. I’ve always thought he was demonstrating a servant’s attitude to them so they would know how to be with others after he was gone. Jesus said, though, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”

When Buddy was washing my feet earlier and looked up at me with so much love and devotion, I finally got it! I am Buddy’s person. I belong to him. He loves me with a depth of devotion that we don’t see often in this life. Jesus was telling his disciples they are his. They, and we, belong to Jesus. He loves us with a depth of devotion we can’t even begin to fathom.

Yes, Jesus died for us, but he also loves us so much that he would wash our feet just as he washed the disciples’ feet. All of us who’ve read stories or seen movies where the hero dies for his/her soul mate, best friend, fellow soldiers, country or ideals understand that concept. It’s the ultimate sacrifice, right? Ok, how many of those same heroes would wash others’ dirty, smelly, cracked, bleeding feet though? Jesus did and Jesus would.

For the record, I’m not saying Buddy is equal to Jesus, obviously. Dogs do exhibit a lot of love and devotion to their “people,” however, that people don’t sometimes. I think it’s remarkable that the Son of God was/is willing to lower himself to the same level as a little Chihuahua dog, though, to show his love and devotion to us. Jesus is crazy about us and there isn’t anything he won’t do to prove it.

With that, this jet-lagged nut is going to rest for a while.

Peace and love, always, Elaine